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The Conservatory of Flowers, located in Golden Gate Park, transports you from the city to a tropical rain forest, minus the exotic animals. The five galleries within the conservatory include the Lowland Tropics, Plotted Plants, Aquatic Plants, Highland Tropics and an ever changing special exhibit. The Conservatory of Flowers displays plants and flowers in its unique environment, offers guided school tours and is available to rent for corporate events and weddings. This gallery of flowers is a must see for any nature or horticulture lover.
In the late 1800s, California's first state engineer, William Hammond Hall, and his assistant, a Scotsman named John McLaren, transformed more than 1000 acres (405 hectares) of sand dunes into a wondrous haven in the midst of the city, christened Golden Gate Park after the eponymous strait nearby. Stretching over 50 blocks from Stanyan Street to the Pacific Ocean, the lush landscape is etched with numerous trails for walking, jogging, biking and horseback riding, alongside a golf course, bowling greens, a lake with paddle boats, soccer fields and a baseball diamond. From the Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers to the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park encompasses a wealth of scenic beauty and cultural intrigue within is expansive embrace. There are also several playgrounds, a quaint carousel, an aquarium, a buffalo reserve and an outdoor bandshell where open-air concerts are hosted each summer.
This historic waterfront area dates back to the Ohlone Indians and is an integral part of the Presidio of San Francisco. Having harbored Native Americans, Spanish settlers, and the U.S. Army throughout the years, Crissy Field has undergone numerous transformations. Today, the city by the bay has once again transformed this area into a recreational space. Visitors will find an educational center, a rock climbing gym, a café, and other establishments in the vicinity. The field also features walking paths, lush lawns, and picnic tables. Gorgeous views of the Golden Gate abound, and you can also unwind on a scenic beach area and enjoy birdwatching along a marsh.
Sutro Baths was built in the late 19th Century. It was a large swimming pool owned privately by Adolp Sutro, who was a former mayor of San Francisco. It had seven different pools, one having fresh water and the others having salt water, but varying in temperatures. Below the Cliff House, a small beach inlet was filled almost hiding the vast iron, glass and concrete structure. The bath had a high operating cost, due to which it eventually closed and a fire in 1966 almost destroyed it leaving behind the ruins. The ruins of the Sutro Baths are open to the visitors as well as the cave where you can catch a glimpse of bats.
This impressive structure crowning Nob Hill was built on the site of the Crocker Mansion after the 1906 earthquake and fire. One of the main attractions of the cathedral are the stained glass windows. These windows showcase over 1000 figures, with some of them dating back as far as the 1930s. The gilded bas-reliefs that adorn the doors of the main entrance are cast from Ghiberti's original molds for the Gates of Paradise that adorn the Baptistery in Florence. The cathedral also boasts two labyrinths. The outdoor one is made of Terrazzo stone and the indoor one from limestone.
The Ferry Building Marketplace is a must-see for San Francisco visitors. This multi-million dollar development has an abundance of activities for the entire family. The marvelous building was designed by renowned architect Arthur Page Brown in Beaux Arts Style. Similar to that of the iconic Giralda Bell Tower in Seville, the clock tower of this building is a popular landmark and can be seen from afar. Take a tour of the historic Ferry Building, browse through antique shops, enjoy a view by the bay and a bowl of chowder at Ferry Plaza Seafood or buy organic produce at the Farmer's Market. Enjoy the sights and sounds of what makes the Ferry Building one of the Bay's most popular destinations for entertainment, food, and fun.
Dolores Park is one of the main hot spots in San Francisco and is the major meet-up place for many citizens. Though it is not very large, it attracts crowds of people and the beautiful views make it worth the visit. Recreational resources include a few tennis courts, basketball courts, two soccer fields and a children's playground, but most of all Dolores Park is often used as a venue for special events such as movies in the park. Its surrounding area is known for some of San Francisco's major culinary attractions: Delfina, Pizzeria Delfina and the Tartine Bakery. It is also a great place to chill with some ice cream from the Bi-Rite Creamery. Saturday hang-outs in the park are often events themselves and it's always packed on weekends. Given its location, it's almost always sunny; the famous fog knows better than to ruin the oasis that is Dolores Park. Whether you choose to sit in Dog Beach, Hipster Beach, Speedo Ridge or partake in actual activity at the playground or tennis courts you are sure to have an unforgettable time.
Feel like taking a quick stroll along verdant pathways? Or want to relax on a patch of green as you indulge in people-watching? Visit Washington Square Park and have a relaxing time out with family and friends. Walk your dog, meet friends, hold small picnics or simply get drenched in the lively aura of this place. The whole park comes alive with music during the North Beach Jazz festival. An ideal hang out on a lazy day.
Often known as the "first neighborhood" of San Francisco, the Mission District is one of the favorite places of the people of the city. The district has its own share of fun places, restaurants, theaters and bookstores and is a hugely popular destination for avid foodies. Spend a day at Dolores Park or admire the colorful murals on the buildings throughout the district.
Most commonly known as the gay mecca of San Francisco, the Castro is a vibrant neighborhood located along Castro Street stretching from Market to 19th Street. The area, made famous after the summer of love and most notably after Harvey Milk's rise to political power in San Francisco in the 1970s, has become a hot spot for the arts, nightlife, restaurants and shopping. The crowded streets, colorful store-fronts and gorgeous Victorians make this a picturesque and funky neighborhood to visit. Stop into the famed Castro Theater for an art-house flick or learn about the history of San Francisco's gay culture at the GLBT History Museum. Don't be alarmed if you are subjected to nudity, sex shops or S&M; it's just another day in the neighborhood.
Hayes Valley is San Francisco's scene for small, trendy boutiques, cafes with endless outdoor seating and green parks. A product of the 1989 earthquake when the destruction required a portion of the freeway be demolished and rebuilt elsewhere, the Hayes Valley has blossomed with the construction of a beautiful park where the freeway once was. There are shops and restaurants selling everything from furniture to messenger bags. Try Absinthe for a bite to eat or a cocktail. This is truly an easy place to get lost on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
San Francisco Japantown Center is a major attraction that reflects Japanese regalia and arts and crafts through a number of showrooms, galleries and bookstores. Its almost like a mini-Japan in the heart of San Francisco. Also known as Nihonmachi, the area serves as a rich treasure of Japanese culture and tradition in the form of clothes, literature and the like, perennially stacked in the several stores tucked inside the center. Japantown also has movie theaters and hotels.